Sports data collection

Important tips for consistent and accurate data collection

Working remotely with athletes presents many day-to-day challenges. Both parts are always learning something new and trying to do a better job today than yesterday. One early topic that frequently has a steep learning curve is how to correctly operate modern sports computers or watches (eg. Garmin Edge 1000). Summarizing many past experiences with my athletes, I decided to write-up this short guide of recommended practices for consistent sports data generation and recording.

Read the sports computer manual first.

  • Even if this sounds logical, many users miss important functions of their devices because they simply don't know they exist.
  • The manufacturer's manual or third party websites (ex. TrainingPeaks help pages or DC Rainmaker) comprehensive reviews) may offer you invaluable tips for proper functioning.

Always check the battery level on your sports computer the night before of your workout or at the end of it.

  • Make sure there's enough juice for the duration of the workout the following day. We frequently lose important data because of dead batteries.
  • Most batteries nowadays don't have the "memory" effect anymore and can be recharged based on your needs instead of having to drain it fully in every cycle.
  • Set one of your screens data fields to show your battery level. This speeds up checking your device's battery level when it's not shown continuously.

Before each workout, make sure you have finished and saved the last workout.

  • Many athletes have corrupted files because they forget these simple steps at the end of last workout.

Check sensor calibration before each workout.

  • Most sports devices operate in conjunction with remote sensors (ex. power meters) that need calibration in order to function as advertised.
  • Check the manufacturer's website for detailed instructions on how to perform these important steps and how often.
  • Third party websites can also be very useful.

Make sure you're recording your data at 1 second intervals and include zeroes in your power and cadence averages.

  • More data points means more detailed analysis.
  • Avoid “smart" recordings.
  • Include zeroes in your power and cadence averages when recording data. There's no instantaneous zero in physiology.

Turn off auto-lap and auto-pause functions.

  • Many users had corrupted files in the past because of these functions being ON.

Backup your files to your computer.

  • Better safe than sorry. Even if direct upload from sports computers to your preferred training platform will be the standard soon, it's always recommended to connect your device to your computer (wirelessly or not) and save the original file as a backup in a dedicated folder.

Erase sport devices memory from time to time.

  • Lack of memory is a problem in every computer and your sports computer is not an exception.
  • Keep as much available memory as possible in your device and this should avoid corrupted files.

Get a cheap backup sports computer.

  • It’s not uncommon for electronic devices to fail. Many athletes miss days of important data simply because when their main sports device fails they don’t have a more basic one to just record their workout data while the other one gets fixed.

Ask the experts.

  • If in doubt, ask an experienced user (ex. coach) about your problem / question. It may be a silly question, but the main goal is to use your device properly.

Finally, one of the pillars to incorporate technology and the power of computer-aided analysis to your training is collecting consistent and accurate data. Always perform the steps suggested above to make sure you won’t be spending time fixing corrupted or "crazy" computer files.

Thanks for reading.

Written by Fabiano C Araujo
Last revision: 02-jun-2017